They’re opponents, adversary’s, the first and second scoring leaders but above all they’re apart of a brotherhood that is the NBA. Before Carmelo and the Knicks demolished the Lakers at the Garden and before Kobe & the Lakers evened the score with a Christmas win of their own, the two held a long conversation that helped shape the formers season. Read more after the jump.
Rewind back to an injured Carmelo and the wave of Linsanity sweeping the nation. The star that had come to save the Knicks had suddenly become the enemy as many believed Jeremy Lin was the real deal and selfish Melo couldn’t fit into the system. “The team is better without him” ala similar to the current situation Amare Stoudemire is facing (I’m sensing a trend). Of course the constant criticism and comments messed with Melo mentally, making him feel dejected. An expected source of help turned up in five-time champion Kobe Bryant with just one phone call.
“Everybody said, ‘Well, they’re better without Carmelo,’ and all this nonsense,” Bryant said. “You guys really put the hammer on him, and as a result, he kind of got a little gun shy and a little self-conscious about things.
“I asked him, ‘What’s going on? What the hell are you doing?’ I said, ‘Do what you do best.'”
Anthony recalled the conversation with Bryant.
“He was just like, ‘What’s wrong? You know you’re not healthy. Just make sure you get healthy and come back and do what you’ve got to do. Try not to worry about what’s going on, what’s being said and just play basketball,'” Anthony said. “‘You know what you can do. You know what you’re capable of. Go from there.’
“At that point in time it was something that was good to hear, especially coming from a guy like that.”
Fast forward to today and Carmelo is having the season of his life. The Knicks are currently 20-8, first in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference behind the defending champion Miami Heat. Melo has become a more willing passer, thrived on mismatches at power forward, improved his shot selection and is a viable defender. The change in his game has garnered him early MVP considerations.
Kobe Bryant has a bad reputation as far as friends and ego go but at the end of the day he’s a huge admirer of the game and always wants to see it at it’s peak. His work ethic and mental strength is to be admired and although he comes off as berating his teammates its undeniable his intended purpose. Anthony is playing the best basketball of his 10-year career, thanks in part to a phone call from Kobe, strange huh?